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Radio Shack awarded ProTour license

The UCI licensing commission has granted a four-year ProTour license to the new U.S.-sponsored Radio Shack team.

“Following examination of the request received, the License Commission has awarded a four-year UCI ProTour license for the period 2010 to 2013 to Team Radio Shack (USA),” the UCI, cycling’s world ruling body, said in a statement released on Friday.

The team will be headed up by former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who made his comeback from retirement in January 2009. Armstrong will be joined on the team by fellow Americans Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner.

The 38-year-old Armstrong competed at this year’s Tour de France where he impressed by finishing third, albeit nearly six minutes behind his Astana teammate Alberto Contador.

The potential Contador/Armstrong duel at next year’s Tour, the route of which was unveiled on Wednesday, could be one of the sporting highlights of the year.

Radio Shack is now the third U.S.-registered team among the elite ProTour ranks of cycling after Columbia-HTC and Garmin-Slipstream.

While the importance of ProTour status has waned since its creation, teams holding a license are assured slots in most of the world’s most prestigious races. The world’s three grand tours, which are no longer part of the UCI’s ProTour, have selectively excluded teams, including this year’s decisions to exclude the Euskaltel-Euskadi team from the Giro d’Italia and the Fuji-Servetto squad from the Tour de France.

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